Here’s the scenario: You need wheels to accomplish a lot for a meeting/dinner. What do you do?
You weigh your options. If you choose right – and you can fit it in your budget – you got it made.
In this case, I chose correctly – and incorrectly.
Budget-wise, it would make sense to use an app-based ride-hailing service. With a tip, I would be able to save some money from the option I chose eventually.
That option was a rental car.
I figured that I needed some freedom of mobility. I also needed to get some wheel time in my “down time” between vehicles to work with. Why not rent a car?
Why not indeed!
This would be the third 2021 Hyundai Elantra SEL I would drive this calendar year. It would the second with in the exact color and equipment level, too.
Why did I chose this Elantra? Why am I even talking about it?
To be fair, it is one of the better vehicles I have driven in 2021. It does a lot for not a lot of money. It offers loads of space in the passenger cabin and trunk. It has plenty of power from its 147-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The Intelligent Continuously Variable Transmission works very well – better than any CVT I’ve encountered.
As I pointed out earlier this year, these are some of the reasons why the Hyundai Elantra scored the North American Car of The Year award back in January.
It is such a good car, isn’t it?
The current Hyundai Elantra is such a good compact sedan that it can calm a tense person’s nerves. It can make a routine drive fun again. It laughs at the rain by keeping it on the road…
These claims sound corny, don’t they?
Actually, they’re not. The Elantra is a good car. It looks different and distinctive. Maybe polarizing to some. However, denying the Elantra’s looks over its competitors might not be a good idea. You are going to see them on the road – either in private party hands or in fleets – and you will know their distinctions immediately. Just don’t snap your neck while driving when you see one.
The future-forward design is seen both inside and out. That is why the Elantra is very distinctive. Even in its second-tier trim, the high level of functionality is a Hyundai trait that is worth working with. Instead of the full digital instrumentation screen, you get two large analog dials with a digital information screen to the right side.
The seats are comfortable, supportive, and fatigue-free. Something travelers will enjoy. In all, the SEL trim level is a good choice in terms of a “traditional” rental car spec and a value-driven consumer choice.
It brings me to something I noticed when I picked up and returned this rented Elantra. The fleet levels are back up to normal. You have a lot of choices when you get to the lot than you did six months ago. There had been stories where the rental car agencies have been hitting the same auctions as automotive retailers – including the online ones. Rather, that these agencies have retained a lot of their fleet from a year or so ago. Regardless, it is refreshing to see a full lot of vehicles again at an airport rental lot.
Back to the vehicle subject at hand: The one thing I am still amazed by the Elantra is its fuel economy on non-turbo models. I averaged 41.4 MPG. Consider that for a moment before you look at its competitors.
The Elantra drives very well overall. While it sips gasoline, it gobbles miles with confidence. A smooth powerplant with equally smooth ride. A great steering radius helps, as well as great brakes. It handles quite nicely. Watch for on-center feel on higher mileage units. That can be easily fixed by puting the Drive Mode button into Smart or Sport.
As for getting your own Elantra, you may have to order one. This SEL model will come with a sticker price of $22,195. An upgraded version with the Convenience and Premium packages will run that tab to $25,125. In all, this is a great value proposition for those who are willing to wait if their specific vehicle is not available on dealer lots.
If you are traveling and find yourself with a choice of vehicles at the rental lot, you’ll have a better time in a Hyundai Elantra. Whether on vacation or doing business, the Elantra will impress you with its style, performance, and fuel efficiency. The gas bill alone will definitely put some money back in your wallet.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle used in this article was rented by Victory & Reseda
All photos by Randy Stern